Lack of leadership on gun rights evident says TFA Director
Press Release from Tennessee Firearms Association, Nashville, TN - The Tennessee Firearms Association blasted the Chairman of the state House Finance committee today for not advancing a bill that would establish permit-optional 'open carry' in Tennessee. The bill was effectively placed on indefinite hold in a subcommittee of the powerful House Finance committee, chaired by Rep. Sargent, even though the bill, as amended, no longer has any fiscal impact and should not be heard by that committee at this point.
"We expect all legislators to debate and vote on the right to keep and bear arms, a core constitutionally protected right, and to do so openly on the floor of each house" observed John Harris the Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association. "Leadership, such as Finance Chairman Charles Sargent, are sadly unwilling to vigorously protect and uphold our most fundamental constitutional rights, such as those protected by the 2nd Amendment, and in some cases fights against bills that expand the right to keep and bear arms. The Tennessee Firearms Association was specifically told this by former caucus chair Debra Maggart who commented to TFA that House Leadership wanted to avoid votes on 2nd Amendment issues because they felt that pro gun legislation was bad for Republicans in election years."
Although the bill is not presently scheduled to come before the full Finance committee this year, the committee Chairman, Charles Sargent, has discretion to change the schedule so that his committee can hear it prior to the end of the session. In addition, House Rule 53 expressly allows the entire House membership to vote to bring legislation such as this directly to the House floor. That is an important rule that can and should be used when a small number of House members try to bury an important bill in the shadows.
The bill, HB 2409 by Rep. Van Huss, would allow any individual in Tennessee who can legally possess a gun to carry a handgun without a permit as long as the handgun is not concealed. Significantly, the Senate passed the bill which is sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers on April 8 by an overwhelming 25-2 vote.
John Harris continues "It is troubling that Representative Sargent and others in House leadership have allowed this subcommittee to derail this bill. These actions have disenfranchised the voters of Tennessee by denying them the benefit of having their elected Representatives debate and vote on this legislation on the House floor."
"The Tennessee Firearms Association calls on all House Members immediately to object to the malicious deferral by the House Finance subcommittee and to demand that the bill be brought directly to the House floor this week for an open debate and a full recorded vote."
Representative Charles Sargent faces a primary opponent in the August 2014 Republican primary in Williamson County by local entrepreneur Steve Gawrys. Mr. Gawrys has been an open advocate for the passage of strong amendments to Tennessee's 2009 Firearms Freedom Act which the federal government has refused to honor in blatant violation of the 10th Amendment.
The Tennessee Firearms Association was founded in 1995 and formed to defend the right to keep and bear arms and to educate the citizenry on the responsible use, ownership and carrying of firearms. The TFA is Tennessee's only no-compromise gun group.